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Region 11 Soar Truckee FAI - Race Day 2 - a record breaker

Weather predictions for the day showed less wind aloft (only 30 knots instead of 40), but less gradient as well (so nearly as much near the ground). Thermal tops were a little more encouraging, with some convergence lines forming towards Air Sailing and north east. A task was called to Air Sailing (10 mile radius), Silver Springs (20 mile radius) and Empire Farms (30 mile radius) giving choices of 120 to 343 miles. The task committee convinced themselves that it would be possible to gain enough altitude at Reno Stead or Peavine to return over Verdi ridge to Truckee. 

Lift was good in the Truckee valley, reaching 13,000 by the time the gate opened. There was lift on the way to Air Sailing, and occasionally strong thermals on the Pond Peak ridge on across the Virginia range to Silver Springs. Several climbs were in the 10 knot range. Returning north to the Empire Farm turnpoint, a choice had to be made to go northeast into the Smoke Creek desert where there were enticingly large cumulus clouds in the distance, or northwest along the east side of Honey Lake with small cycling clouds. Nearly everyone opted for the west edge of the desert.

Then there was the conundrum of how to get home. Bill Gawthrop (F8) took a northerly route through Adams peak and down the Loyalton ridge, saying the final glide “made him nervous”. Bill’s nervousness threshold is higher than nearly anyone, so you can imagine it was tight. He had to find a climb near Truckee to get to legal finishing height, but the effort won the day with a raw speed of 77 mph. Mike Mayo (E5) also came around the north end of the Loyalton ridge. The promised lift at Reno Stead and on Peavine mountain was weaker than hoped for. The three other finishers (Hal Woodruff (EM), Roy Cundiff (GB) and Jim Lee (1X)) got just enough to get through the Verdi ridge gap and glide in).

That was when records began to get broken. Several competitors took a run at the Verdi gap but judged the glide from there into a 23 knot headwind at that altitude to be uncomfortable. Several more arrived in the Reno Stead area too low to try. Jon Fitch (L6) had found wave north of Air Sailing and started the final glide from 17,400 ft, normally an easy glide from there but today at that altitude into a 42 knot headwind it was a bit of a challenge. He arrived at Verdi high enough to ridge soar it, but lacked the intestinal fortitude to continue on. Jim Lee (1X) was ridge soaring along side at the same height, with a little more patience found a thermal bubble giving him an extra 300 ft, and he glided to the finish. 

And so it rained fiberglass at Reno Stead. When L6 returned for an engine start, it looked like the field had re-gridded on the tarmac to runway 26. An active firefighting air assault was underway from the airport, but the competitors helped each other stage and organize and no chaos resulted. 10 gliders needed an air retrieve, one opted for a trailer retrieve, and 4 motor gliders started their engines for the trip home. 

The previous record from Truckee was 6 retrieves in one day, and 4 from one location - a record breaking day! With three tow planes tag teaming the field, everyone was home by sunset. 

The forecast for Thursday is more wind again……

Reported by Jon Fitch (L6)

Posted: 7/22/2016


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